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Sic Semper Tyrannis

Friday, December 05, 2008

What's the opposite of "turning a deaf ear?"

UW President donates his raise:

For most people, a raise at work serves as a reward for a job well done and the opportunity for self-indulgence.

But for the University of Wisconsin System President Kevin Reilly and an increasing number of university officials throughout the nation, a raise is starting to serve an entirely different purpose.

According to Reilly, the UW Board of Regents approved a $73,000 raise for him in June, helping to keep his salary more competitive with other system and university presidents nationwide. Reilly then donated $70,000 of his raise to need-based financial aid, which would later be distributed to students throughout the UW System.
First of all, the sheer amount of Reilly's salary and raise shouldn't give us any pause: if he can convince somebody to pay him that much, then I say more power to him. Don’t begrudge him his salary.

I do think these salary increases are a vicious circle. See, the UW gives its top officials enormous raises to "keep his salary more competitive with other system and university presidents nationwide." Then other universities say: "geez, we better increase salaries to stay ahead of the game and stay competitive." Then other universities raise salaries to keep up, then others raise salaries to stay ahead...

They should all just stop.

But that's not why I'm writing this.

A raise that big - bigger than most people's annual income - at a time like this could – will – easily become a PR nightmare for the UW. With this gesture, Reilly has very deftly avoided that and, if anything, will increase public goodwill toward the university. Good for him.